It turns out the 2008 recession was the perfect time to launch Blue Door Pub, which just opened its fourth location in the former Country Bar space.
Co-owners Pat McDonough and Jeremy Woerner were “crazy naive,” veterans of the Groveland Tap and not interested in any other career. They signed a purchase agreement without a formal business plan and without a secured loan, Woerner said.
“This is what we knew how to do really well,” he said.
There weren’t many other restaurants opening at the time, so Blue Door took the spotlight in the press and easily filled the small St. Paul venue. The second Blue Door Pub came five years later, and in 2015 they relocated an original 1957 Fodero Diner from Pennsylvania to East Lake Street to create the Hi-Lo Diner.
As the business evolved, the owners realized that many of their employees were Minnesota transplants who weren’t going home for the holidays. They decided to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and open the doors to charity groups as well. The meal became an annual tradition, and in 2017 they served nearly 2,000 free meals.
Blue Door Pub’s first location was slightly bigger than the new LynLake spot at 3006 Lyndale Ave. S., which holds a new prep kitchen in the basement. Country Bar’s taxidermy is gone, and so is the animated sign. Much remains, however, including the tile floor, the copper bar, and the Airbnb room upstairs, which Woerner’s eight-year-old has claimed as his future residence.
The menu features a Carolina-style barbecue pulled pork sandwich with marinated cucumber and a list of burgers like the “Mount Blucuvious” — taking the spotlight in a yet-to-be-announced television episode — with ghost pepper cheese, fried avocado, spicy bacon and cilantro-lime sauce.
This is the first Blue Door Pub to serve liquor, offering a Sunday morning bloody and cocktails like the Fashionably Crazy, made with Indeed Stir Crazy, Redemption Rye and coffee angostura.
Dani De Tuncq returns every Thursday to host karaoke. Weekly specials include a Monday $3 burger, Tuesday $5 ‘Sup Dog (texas toast bun, garlic aioli, corn salsa, cotija cheese), Wednesday wings for $8.50, and Thursday $5 tots. Happy hour is 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 p.m.-close daily.